YOU ARE INVITED TO SIGN PETITION ON TUESDAY NIGHT
This season, supporters of Oxford, Mansfield, Crawley and Bognor have all been bemused to see their clubs docked points for player registration errors. Following a joint statement by the supporters trusts of Oxford, Mansfield and Crawley, and local and national publicity for the statement, the Football Conference announced it was conducting an Internal Review of its procedures, which is due to report on 23rd February.
Martin Shaw, of the Mansfield Town supporters trust (Stags Fans United) said: “It is grossly unfair that four clubs in the Conference Premier and South have suffered points deductions so far this season, in large part down to the inadequacy of the conference's archaic systems. In all cases, it is quite clear that there was no intent to gain an unfair advantage. Hence the deduction of points is ridiculously out of proportion to the severity of the issue, and we urge the Conference Internal Review team to accept the procedures were fundamentally flawed and to re-instate the points for all four clubs.”
Just over a week ago, the supporters trusts got together to set up an online petition to urge The Football Conference Internal Review Team to rescind immediately the points deductions imposed on each of the three clubs plus Bognor Regis Town.
Over 3000 signatures have already been collected online, including from Oxford chairman Kelvin Thomas, and from the three Stags owners, with chairman Andy Perry himself commenting in the online petition: "If the team sheet from the Saturday game had been checked by the conference on the Monday or Tuesday then the players in question would not have played on the Tuesday night. All team sheets must be checked and cross referenced to the registration database!"
Martin Shaw added: "Now we want to give those who have not been able to signup online an opportunity to still register their support for the petition. So Stags Fans United will have people around before the game on Tuesday night at Field Mill, with clipboards and sheets of paper for people to sign. There is no need to sign if you have already signed online."
A reminder of the web address of the online petition: www.PetitionOnline.com/confpts/petition.html
U's players back points petition
BBC.co.uk, 16 Feb 2009
Oxford's players are set to back a fans petition demanding that the Football Conference overturns its decision to dock points from four clubs.
United, Crawley, Mansfield and Bognor Regis have all been punished for using unregistered players.
Nearly 3,000 fans of the affected clubs have signed the online petition since its creation.
The petition will be handed in person to the Conference this week ahead of the internal review of its procedures.
Unlike many leagues, the Conference currently has no online facility to check that player registration forms have been received and processed.
U's midfielder Eddie Hutchinson, who has been at the club since 2006, played for 13 matches at the start of the Blue Square Premier season before the clerical error came to light - causing the Conference to deduct them five points.
Trevor Lambert, chairman of the Oxford United supporters' group Ox Vox, is one of those who would like to see changes in the Conference's administration procedures.
"By holding this review the Conference is acknowledging that its systems have not been fit for purpose," said Lambert.
"We urge fans to unite to persuade them to see the logic of returning the points to all four clubs. And to supporters of clubs not immediately affected, please support this appeal - it could be your club next."
U's stars join points battle
Oxford Mail, 17th February 2009
By Jon Murray »
Oxford United's stars are backing the petition set up by supporters demanding that the Conference overturns its decision to dock points from four clubs for fielding ineligible players.
The U's squad, including the player in question, Eddie Hutchinson, are set to sign the petition today as a show of support for the fan-driven campaign.
More than 3,000 fans from each of the four affected clubs – Oxford United, Crawley Town, Mansfield Town and Bognor Regis – have signed the online petition since its creation 11 days ago.
Over 1,000 Oxford United fans signed the petition before passing through the turnstiles before last Saturday's home game against Barrow.
The petition will be handed in person to the Conference this week, ahead of the internal review of its procedures, which is due to report on February 23.
Oxford United were deducted five points by a disciplinary review panel in Birmingham for not registering Hutchinson properly, or checking that he had been registered. At one stage it looked as though they might be docked 11 points.
Hutchinson told the Oxford Mail last night: “After it happened, the boys have all got on with it and not used it as an excuse.
“No-one wanted the possibility of the appeal failing and us losing more points, but it's great the fans have got this petition together and if there's any way of putting pressure on, without the risk of losing further points, I'm right behind that.”
He added: “It should have been three points, just for the first game in question and then the Conference should have spotted it.
“The five points seems harsh, without that we'd be up there with fourth and fifth place. The 11 points was ridiculous because it was over a long time.”
OxVox (Oxford United's Supporters' Trust) press spokesperson Mark Sennett said: “I think it's wonderful that the players are set to sign the petition and it's great that they are supporting an initiative driven by the fans.
“We hope this petition will have a big impact and force the Conference to reverse its decision to dock points from the four affected clubs.
“We also hope it will lead to the Conference changing its archaic registration process before another club suffers a similar unjustifiable punishment.”
When the petition was set up, Martin Shaw, of Stag Fans United, said: “It is grossly unfair that four clubs in the Conference Premier and South have suffered points deductions so far this season, in a large part down to the inadequacy of the Conference's archaic systems.
“In all cases, it is quite clear that there was no intent to gain an unfair advantage.
“Hence the deduction of points is ridiculously out of proportion to the severity of the issue, and we urge the Conference Internal Review team to accept the procedures were fundamentally flawed and to re-instate the points for all four clubs.”